ApocEclipse: The Oregon Edition

We rode to the totality of the August 2017 eclipse in Oregon and back again.

Bicycle Adventurers: LeeAnn O’Neill and her good friend and coworker Michelle Hunsicker.

When: August 2017

Accommodations: Tents at the Harvey Mudd and Caltech Alumni private eclipse site at the Mt. Jefferson Rifle Range just northwest of Madras, Oregon

Distance: About 60+ miles each way — we rode out from Bend to Madras Sunday, stayed for the eclipse, and rode back on Monday.

Bonus tips for this adventure:

  • The Culver Highway (Oregon Route 361) is lovely with lots of stealth camping and beautiful desert landscapes.
  • There is also a section in Redmond, off of 5th Street, that has a beautiful pear and apple tree!

Day One

In an abundance of caution, we left Bend, Oregon at 8:00 AM and made it to Madras, Oregon by 2:00 PM. Despite the media frenzy that led all of us in central Oregon to believe the world would end when a million eclipse chasers descended upon us, our bike tour to the epicenter of the dark side of the moon was lovely, mostly sans traffic, and otherwise just a good adventure. We had plenty of time to relax, socialize, and prepare for the big event. We relished a catered dinner put on by the folks organizing this private eclipse festival, and ate an inordinate amount of watermelon. Shortly after sunset, I crawled into the tent and passed out. I slept a solid nine hours before stirring the next morning.

Day Two

I highly recommend surrounding yourself with astrophysicists and other science PhDs for celestial events such as this one. Not only do you get access to the best telescopes, binoculars, and other knowledge, but you get to know lovely folks such as Joel and his father, who traveled from San Jose, California to grace us with their presence. Joel’s father shared images of the solar sunspots as well as his meticulous eclipse “to do” list.

The eclipse itself was an ephemeral dream of fire and darkness and a 360 sunset with stunning views of Mt. Jefferson. And then, it was done, altogether too fast. We took a minute to bask in the afterglow of the totality of the eclipse, and then off we went to get back to Bend in time for dinner.

It is times like this that I love riding my bike. The highway and backroads were packed with folks trying to flee the scene, and we just cruised by everyone on the shoulder. A few folks cheered us on, others lamented being in cars, and we gleefully made our way back.

As luck would have it, our route took us by a friend’s house halfway back, and he greeted us on a street corner with cold seltzer water, hugs, and stories. All in all, we had a blast and were thankful we ignored the doomsday prophecies.

Your favorite local bike shop? Umm ... honestly, we didn’t see any bike shops on this trip, but I imagine there are shops in Redmond and Madras.

Bike overnight tips and tricks? This route takes you through a ton of cute towns, Tumalo, Redmond, Terrebonne (the detour to Smith Rock State Park is a must do ... it’s one of the seven wonders of Oregon), Culver, and Metolius! Amenities are abundant and Redmond and Madras are your best bets for full services.


HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your own bike overnight adventure!

1 response so far ↓

Tim R. - Sep 14, 2017 at 9:32 PM

Good for you!

We went, by car, from Grants Pass up to a county park near Corvallis. On the way back on hwy. 99 we cheered the 2 cyclists that easily beat us to Eugene.

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